Sergeant 3rd Class Cyril Elgar HOWE
New South Wales Police Force
Regd. # 8663
Constable 1st Class
Shot – Murdered
20 December, 1963
On the evening of 19 December, 1963 Constable Howe detained an offender named Little near Oaklands and spoke to him regarding a stolen cheque book. He then directed the offender to drive his vehicle to the local police station while he followed in the police vehicle. En route the offender sped away, and was pursued by Constable Howe for several kilometres. When the offender eventually stopped, the constable approached his vehicle. The offender, who had taken cover behind his vehicle door (the doors opened backwards from hinged centre pillars), then produced a shotgun and shot Constable Howe. The constable crawled back to the police vehicle where he took cover, and although seriously wounded, returned fire until his automatic pistol jammed. He then sought further cover by crawling underneath the police vehicle, where he cleared his pistol and fired another shot before it again jammed. The offender then fired at the police vehicle, shooting out the headlights, steering, and the police sign from the top, before escaping.
Constable Howe then wrote the offender’s name several times in his police notebook before dragging himself into the police vehicle. He was only able to drive it a few metres before it ran into a roadside ditch. After being found, the constable was able to detail the events leading to the shooting. He was taken to the Wagga Base Hospital, however despite a five-hour operation he died at 10.45pm on 20 December, 1963. Constable 1st Class Howe was posthumously promoted to Sergeant 3rd Class and awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for Gallantry, and the Peter Mitchell Award. The offender later committed suicide.
The circumstances surrounding Sergeant Howe’s death (pistol repeatedly jamming) led to the introduction of Smith & Wesson .38 calibre 6 shot revolvers as general service issue to New South Wales Police. These, in turn were replaced by Glock semi-automatic pistols in the late 1990s.
The sergeant was born in 1932 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 1 April, 1957. At the time of his death he was stationed at Oaklands.